Airline Review: Air Juan Seaplane Service


I've always wanted to fly in a seaplane. As an avgeek, I think the flying machines that can land on water are the epitome of cool. I got my wish when a new airline, Air Juan, opened a scheduled flight between Manila Bay and Subic. Subic is practically my playground, where I jetsurf and flyboard regularly, and the fare wasn't that expensive. I booked a flight as soon as I saw an opening in my calendar.

Air Juan is a charter airline established in 2012. It started operations in 2014, flying from Puerto Princesa to Coron and Cuyo Island. They started their seaplane service in 2015, between Coron and Boracay, then further expanded the list of destinations to include Baler, Puerto Galera, and Balesin Island.


Booking, Fare and Schedule

I booked my ticket - Manila Bay to Subic International Airport - through their website, www.airjuan.com. There are three air fare classes: Early Bird, Saver, and Full. I paid PhP 3000 for one-way early bird fare to Subic. The saver costs P4700, and the full fare will set you back PhP 5250. It is not exactly cheap, but if you want to arrive in Subic in 20 minutes, and spare yourself of passing through  the traffic in NLEX, then the service is worth considering.



My flight to Subic was scheduled at 4:40 in the afternoon. The flight back to Manila Bay from Subic is schedule at 6:30 am, and the lowest possible fare is PhP2000. The rates to other destinations are substantially more expensive, owing to the distance. The full fare from Manila Bay to Boracay is PhP15,000 one way, for example. 

There was a bit of a glitch with their payment processor when I booked. The site froze during the transaction, but I knew that the payment went through because my card company sent me a text. I have to call their customer service to request them to send me the booking info and ticket via email.  They also do not have a mobile app yet.


Aircraft

The amphibian aircraft being used by the airline is the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EX. It is a single-engined turboprop, which can seat 9 passengers plus two pilots. It can fly at a maximum speed of 294 kph, at 20,000 feet. This is the second type of Cessna which I've flown, the first being the Cessna 172 in Clark.

The 37-foot long aircraft is equipped with two floats with wheels, which allow it to takeoff and land on water as well as on land. For the flight, it took off from Manila Bay using its floats, then landed normally in Subic Airport. It also does water landing in destinations such as Boracay, Huma Island, and Puerto Galera. 

Air Juan also has regular land plane versions of Cessna 208, as well as a fleet of Bell helicopters for charter flights. 

The passenger lounge in CCP Seaplane Base

Check In, Cabin and Amenities

Prior to the flight the passengers will check in at a small office located in the seaplane base in CCP Complex in Pasay. After check in passengers can wait for their flights in the lounge. It is small but the pilots usually hang out there, so you can interact with them as well. To board, you will walk on the jetty to the plane, where you will be ushered by the crew to the plane. 

Inside the cabin of the Cessna 208B

The cabin is spacious enough for nine passengers, plus some space at the back for luggage. There's no stewardesses, so the flight safety briefing was provided by the pilot himself. We were given instructions on how to open the cabin doors in case of emergencies, as well as other info, such as flight time, where to stow the luggage, etc. 

Window seat view of Manila Bay and Mania skyline

Seating is 1+2 configuration, with a bench type seat with no armrest for the 2 passengers, per row. Behind the seats are pockets stuff with magazines to entertain you in flight, but I spent the whole flight looking outside the window, admiring the view of Manila Bay and Bataan. No food and drinks were served during the flight. 

Each passenger is entitled to 10 kg of baggage allowance, plus an additional 23 kg for full fare passengers. The passenger and their luggage is weighed during check in, I think for weight distribution purposes.

The Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) from above



Crew and Customer Service

I find the airline personnel to be helpful and pleasant to deal with. They were able to resolve my booking issue right away and without any headache on my part. The check in was a breeze as well. In the lounge the pilots were also socializing and interacting with the passengers, which you don't experience in big airlines. 

Overall Impression

My overall impressing is very positive, so far. The flight was fast and on time, and pleasant and uneventful enough. I actually enjoyed taking in the view from my window seat, as we flew from Manila Bay over to Bataan, then over SCTEX, then to Subic Airport. 

The Manila Bay to Subic Bay flight is something that I will taking again in the near future, judging from how fast it was to g et there. I am also now considering taking some of their flights in my trips - probably the one I am planning to Cuyo Island and Baler as well. 

Useful Info
Air Juan website: www.airjuan.com

The Air Juan Seaplane base is located in the Cultural Center of the Philippine complex in F. MA Guerrero St, Pasay City. it is near the Folk Arts Plaza and Tanghalang Franciso Balagtas. 

Comments

  1. Mas matagal ang biyahe papuntang CCP kesa sa papuntang Subic, mwahaha.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How about for the seat selection? Do I get to choose a front seat (back of pilot)? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, I think you can choose the seats you want, depending on the number of passengers and if you board the aircraft first :)

      Delete

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